Tag Archives: christian living

Saving souls… one bottle at a time

empty soda bottles

What do empty soda bottles have to do with saving souls? 

We made a tremendous discovery while we were helping the church at Monduli Juu!

By the way, Monduli is the general region. Juu means “upper.” We have rented a house in this community, about a quarter mile from this church. Our co-workers, Lewis and Tammy Short, live in Lower Monduli, or Monduli Chini. 

This church–and the community they are located in–has no water supply. They carry water in from streams and ponds a couple of miles away; the same streams and ponds that are used to water animals. It’s not clean water, but it’s all they have. We proposed collecting rain water from the church building, and sharing it with the community.

Initially, we were going to buy large vinyl tanks. We told the church that we would partner with them: if they buy one tank, we will match it. But since they don’t have a lot of cash, that wasn’t working well.

We found a design for building tanks and houses out of discarded soda bottles, filled with dirt. You still have to buy cement, but nearly all your other materials are free. We proposed this to the members of the Monduli Juu church. So after collecting about 500 bottles, we set a day and started building a tank.

We drew a circle on the ground, and mixed concrete to pour a circular floor. While one group was preparing concrete, another group started filling plastic bottles with dirt. We mixed mortar, and started building a circular cistern. When one of the neighbors wanted to learn how to build this way, we all got together another weekend and worked together with her family.


Mixing concrete on location. You can see the center stake and part of the inscribed circle.


Filling bottles with dirt and ground pumice. In the background, the first few bottle bricks have already been laid.

That’s when we made our discovery. It took a long time to fill bottles and mix cement and lay bottle bricks, and all that time, people were chatting. They made fun of  each other, and they exchanged phone numbers. They tried to figure out which friends they had in common. In short, this time-consuming, tedious process was a perfect opportunity for evangelism!

It meets a felt need: for good water storage near home.

It’s sustainable: anyone can do it with local materials (and it cleans up the environment!).

And it provides a lot of relationship-building time between the local church and the non-believers who want to learn about this method.

This was exactly the sort of project we had been looking for. This method can help us become a valued part of the community, and can be part of an indigenous evangelism effort.

And that’s how we use empty soda bottles to win souls for Christ!

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Three Book Reviews





I recently reviewed three books for the Christian Chronicle.

The books are:

  • Kingdom Calling by Amy Sherman
  • Work Matters by Tom Nelson
  • Work, Love, Pray by Diane Paddison

Here’s a link to the reviews on the Christian Chronicle website: Book Reviews

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Book Review: ROUTE 66: A Crash Course in Navigating Life with the Bible by Krish Kandiah

Most people settle for reading the Bible in a year. Seems like every Bible-related website has a plan. So how do you go one better on that?

Krish Kandiah’s “crash course in navigating life with the Bible” has an 8-week plan, complete with study guide, discussion questions and prompts for a “travel journal.”

Route 66 uses travel/car metaphors to guide the reader through the Bible. The original Route 66 is the famous “main street of America,” the historic highway from Detroit to Los Angeles, John Steinbeck’s “Mother Road.” The metaphor is useful for a journey that the author hopes will be life-changing.

Route 66 is a book on hermeneutics, for people who have never heard of hermaneutics, and probably don’t care. For students of the Bible, the easiest explanation is that it is a light version of Fee and Stewart’s How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth.

That’s not to say it’s unworthy. It’s written for a different audience. An audience who may have little or no previous exposure to the Bible, who are curious enough about it to take on an 8-week challenge to discover what it’s all about.

In 8 weeks, there are discussions of 8 Biblical genres, and how to read them and make sense of them. There’s a brief reading for each day of each week, focusing on specific aspects of the genre in question. Each reading has questions to be responded to in a “travel journal,” and each week ends with a suggested small group study.

As one might expect in such a book, difficult questions get a mention and a nod, but hardly enough discussion. For example, in the reading on Leviticus, Kandiah suggests that there are three different kinds of laws: [obsolete] Civil Laws, [obsolete] Ceremonial Laws, and [eternal] Moral Laws. “In practice,” he says, “the laws don’t always fit neatly into each category… The Old Testament itself gives no hint of any such distinctions.” He then invites readers to use these categories to categorize the laws in Leviticus chapter 19. Too neat, too quick, and hardly fair to the reader, especially a novice in Bible studies.

Of course, it’s not intended to be a theological treatise, rather a “crash course.” Any author attempting to introduce the subject matter of the Bible in less than 200 pages is bound to gloss over a few things. The idea is to get people reading the Bible and contemplating it. If they get past the first hurdle (actually reading it), they presumably have more time to contemplate more difficult questions at their own leisure.

I described this book as “Fee and Stuart light” to one of my friends, and he asked whether Kandiah takes a higher view (than Fee and Stuart did) of the Old Testament. Given the limitations of a brief introduction, Kandiah seems always to explain the Old Testament in terms of Jesus Christ. Some things point to Christ; others pre-figure Christ; others are fulfilled by Christ. It is perhaps simplistic, but it is a starting place.

As a Sunday-school teacher, I find the book intriguing. As I read it, I tried to imagine how I would deal with a class who met once a week to discuss the material, as suggested. I’m not sure whether Kandiah has given me too much material, or too little. Certainly I will be using this little book as a resource; and perhaps I will try an 8 week crash course.

This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.   ( )

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Book Review: Bittersweet–one of the best books I’ve read this year

My female friends tell me that I’m “man enough” to read a “Chick” book and live to talk about it. That’s a good thing, because reading Bittersweet is like peeking into a girlfriend’s diary. This collection of essays is sort of a literary version of a chick flick.

It deals with heartbreak, rejection and renewal. Shauna Niequist writes about her own experiences, drawing you into her emotions, and hopefully, lifting you to a better place as she struggles and learns.
Of course, the experiences she describes–losing a job; losing a child; moving; enjoying friends for friendship’s sake–are universal, but Niequist deals with them from an unapologetically feminine perspective. She shares “thoughts on change, grace and learning the hard way” in a way that keeps me wanting to peek into her diary for one more chapter.

Niequist points out, in many ways, that life is worth living, even when life in the here and now is horrible, or frightening. When we learn to embrace the bitter, we also find the sweet; and the sweet is sublime.

You can see more about Bittersweet at http://zndr.vn/dl4aEt

This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers. ( )

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